Favorite Bands: Cocteau Twins

cocteau twins 2

If I had to pick any one band that influenced my bass and guitar styles the most, inspired numerous plot ideas and settings for my early writings, and always calmed my teenage soul late at night, it would definitely be Cocteau Twins.

I absolutely adored the layered, chiming and heavily echoed guitars of Robin Guthrie, the dual-tone melodies of bassist Simon Raymonde (and even the dissonant meanderings of original bassist Will Heggie, who went on to be part of the band Lowlife), and the otherworldly vocalizations of Elizabeth Fraser.

They were My Bloody Valentine at a much lower volume.  They were Felt with a hell of a lot more ambience.  They were goth without the pretension and imagery.  And they were one of the biggest anchors of the classic 80s sound of the 4AD record label.  When all the music critics described their sound as pastoral, autumnal or dreamlike, they really weren’t trying to be over the top.  They really did sound like the Scottish Highlands on a cool and foggy morning, or a late October in foliage-laden New England.

If you haven’t given them a close listen, especially their dreamier 80s output, I highly suggest it.  It’s quite lovely.

Retro: 80s Outliers

Believe it or not, I haven’t listened to my beloved 80s college radio-era albums and mixes in quite some time.  I did that on purpose as I wanted to soak my brain in some of the new stuff that’s out there.  Different sounds thirty years on.  Some music reminiscent of the early years, such as the noisy shoegazeyness of Panda Riot versus My Bloody Valentine.  Other music reveling in its weirdness like Alt-J or its sparse loveliness like London Grammar.

So going back down the 80s rabbit hole one more time, I’m hitting the usual cast of characters such as The Smiths and the Cure and so on.  I procured those discographies quite some time ago.  I still listen to them every now and again when the mood strikes.

Lately however, I’ve been wanting to do a bit more research in the bands and sounds that I never quite got around to following other than a few singles.  I recently caught up with the Fall’s discography for the most part (I’m bypassing their 1,058,736 live albums that seem to have the same release frequency as a Guided By Voices record), and now I’m curious once more about some of the other outliers from that era.

Here’s some of the stuff I’m talking about:

 

A lot of Electronic Body Music (aka EBM) there to be sure.  It might sound much more lower-tech than the DJ boffins we have nowadays like BT and Skrillex, but not bad considering a lot of those synths were brand spanking new at the time and no one really knew much of how to work them.  And as long as they got people on the floor, so much the better.

But I’m also curious about other genres out there from that era, like the various punk scenes (such as Boston versus DC versus LA versus SF, and so on), or more of the Athens scene (Pylon, Love Tractor, etc), or anything else that’s out there that I may have missed.

So yeah…if any of you have any suggestions for old-school tunage for me to look into, please feel free to let me know!

Get off your ass and jam

So apparently I did have a slice or two of P-Funk in my collection….just not the originals.


(samples “(Not Just) Knee Deep”)


(samples “Pumpin’ It Up”)


(samples “Let’s Play House”)


(samples “Man’s Best Friend”)


(samples “Mothership Connection”)


(samples “Come in Out of the Rain”)


(samples “Atomic Dog”)


(samples “Get Off Your Ass and Jam”)

Giving some of those early Funkadelic albums a listen and OH MAN are they tight. I have no idea why I didn’t get to them sooner.

Fly-by: The Dickies

Sorry for another fly-by folks…between Day Jobbery and feeling absolutely knackered the last few days, I don’t have much energy to post anything too intensive.

That said, I’ve strangely been on a Dickies kick lately.  Not sure why.  I think it’s that their quite excellent cover of The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” popped into my head the other day.  They’re part of that early 80s Silly American Punk scene that gave us bands like Blotto and The Meatmen.

Here’s a few choice cuts I think you’ll like… 🙂





Two hours into the future…30 years later

120 minutes logo

The original late-80s opening I remember so well

Over the last few weeks, there’s been an uptick of newly uploaded videos on the 120 Memories YouTube channel that feature almost-full episodes of the venerated show.  There’s a few other channels out there showing partial episodes (usually the host segments but no music videos) like MrBriefcaseTV2 and other users.  There’s also the great reference website The 120 Minutes Archive, which provides extensive playlists of nearly every episode*, and links to the videos if they’re available.

* – Back when this site was first being built sometime in 2004 or so, I still had a lot of my old VHS tapes with many of the episodes, so I was able to provide them with a lot of playlist information.  A lot of the 1987-1989 episodes have my name listed on the site.

It’s fun watching some of these now, nearly thirty years later…

For instance, I remember watching the above episode as Dave Kendall (at that point still only the producer and doing the countdowns and new releases) featuring a segment on the then-new Sisters of Mercy album, Floodland.  Even though he treated it in his usual over-the-top way, dripping with snark and pomposity and just a hint of humor, that segment actually convinced me to go out and buy the album.

I’d say Kevin Seal was my favorite host, considering he played it like the student doing a show on college radio: the barest of preparation, rehearsal or professionalism, but he was having a hell of a fun time doing it.  It also helped that he was also the class weirdo out of all the veejays there at the time.  Dave Kendall was the station manager, doing what he could with what little he had on hand, more focused on providing awesome music than decent production.

Those early years were definitely lo-fi.  They’d become more slick during the early 90s when Nirvana & Co came in, followed by the Ultimate Music Nerd in the shape of Matt Pinfield in the mid to late 90s.  But those early years, that era from 1986 to about 1990 when it was still all about whatever was playing on college radio at the time, that was where it worked best.  It was the visual equivalent of turning on your favorite college station for two hours after everyone else had gone to bed.

Meanwhile, 30 years ago…

Status: back half of sophomore year in high school.
Writing: finishing up the Infamous War Novel; starting Belief in Fate; trying out various ideas but not getting too far with them.
Radio: splitting time between college radio (WAMH and WMUA), AOR (WMDK and WRSI), rock (WAQY and WAAF), and a few pop stations.
TV: Still watching USA Network’s Night Flight occasionally. Taping episodes of 120 Minutes and watching them the following afternoon, plus numerous rewatches of Monty Python and other British alternative comedies.
Personal: single and sick of feeling sorry for myself; getting rid of my 80s spiky ‘do and letting my hair grow out a bit; just about sick of these damn braces.
Social: bouncing between two different social circles.
Music Collection: Approximately two milk crates full of vinyl, a small collection of singles, and a quickly growing cassette collection. At least a few dozen ‘radio tape’ mix tapes at this point.

Listening to…

…which, if you think about it, is not that different from the sounds I’m currently listening to.  🙂